My Ability on Love
There was something pulling me from my aunt’s house today. No, it was pushing me. It was smoking me out. This feeling of nausea, this broken desire to do absolutely nothing. I was so incredibly dissonant today, I got my book, grabbed the labtop, and I sparked the ignition of my broken car. That poor steed.
He took me from North Dakota to here, Oregon. He saw mountains and lakes, grasslands, meadows, desolate fields, sunsets, sunrises, even the Garden of a Thousand Buddhas, he and I shared the sight of. He bed me for the nights, kept me safe, kept me warm, and now he was pulling me from my den into the uncertain order of societal Monday afternoon.
Through the showering of falling leaves, as if they too were growing stagnant in their homes, I dragged my steed. He is so tired, and I’m sitting in the tire store with the mindset of a mother waiting on a sick child while he is on hydraulic pedestals getting examined and probed by aliens that call themselves man. It’s a good thing I brought my laptop to ease this pain.
He’s back! I rest in his shelter like he’s a tent and I am his homeless man.
I found this park today. Well, sorry, no it is called a Natural Area. I said, fuck yeah, and pulled over to the curb. Sorry buddy, you don’t belong off the roads. I walked and met people with curt nods and shallow h’lo’s. Then, the trail spilled into a parking lot. Goddamn it, I thought. Alas, I was saved by the game trail that led from the asphalt and carefully placed stone trail I was s’posed to keep my feet to.
This was my moment as an author. I crept with my head low and my steps whispering, pretending that they will hear me, they will find me, they will do bad things to me. Or the wolves are out, be quiet. I love pretence. You can feel the shivering in your spine when you do this. With no sight of road nor sound of car, you are really there! Who says that there aren’t wolves or dragons or monsters?
Adventure was always imagined, never did I actually hear the howling of a wolf. But when I stepped over a log and saw the tent, I froze. I shook, yes. The wind was blowing and it felt alien to my face. I pulled my jacket closer to my self and I almost turned away. Most would have pivoted their heels and squished the yellow and brown leaves into the soft soil on their way out. I didn’t. I don’t know what I wanted, but I knew this is what I was s’posed to be here for.
“Is there anyone here?” I call, creeping toward the camp. My voice sounded harsh and I realized that I had become the wolves you kept quiet for.
The tent flap was open and I saw feet cocooned in a blanket.
“H’lo?” I asked. The word wasn’t hollow this time.
The feet disappeared and became a face.
“What d’you want?” the beard asked fiercely.
I realized I didn’t know.
I told him my name and realized that is just what a cop would do before he said, “Get out, you can’t be here!” Or even worse: I sounded like I was pitying him! Oh, lord.
He relaxed, though. He smelled of cigarettes and damp clothing, but it wasn’t an unpleasant scent. I sat cross-legged outside the tent, aware of the scurrying-off of critters. With the look under the dirt and grime on his face, I realized that I sent off his friends.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t mean to scare you, if I did. I just—What’s your name?”
God, my voice is too high pitched, I sound like the prissy white woman who is about to tell you off in a nice way!
“I don’t give my name out to people.”
“That’s fine. I was wondering, actually… What’s it like?”
I saw the muscles in his face relax. “Well,” he said in a mountain-man voice. “It’s not like anything, really. Just nothing. A whole lot of nothing.”
I’m not going to write what we talked about, because to be honest I don’t remember the words as they were laid down. And I would hate to remember them falsely by making them up in a dramatic rendition. So, instead, I’ll tell you how I felt about him. About meeting this remarkable individual.
Because I can remember in crystal clarity how something makes me feel.
I had no fear, whatsoever. I never did have fear. I could imagine this man laying there drunk on this Monday afternoon, perhaps even approaching me with a knife and telling me to give him all my clothes and money. The thing is, I would have done it. But not without a, “You know, sir, you can take my clothes, my cash, my life… but talk to me first. Let me know what you want the world to know. Give me advice you wish you would’ve followed. I will die with a smile in my heart if you could grant me this.”
The connection I had between this man was what I feel for a dog or a cat: unprecedented love. There was nothing in the way for me loving him. Not his faults, not his odor (though he had none), not his lack of property… nothing. I saw the love he had for animals, sharing his precious food with any and all, and how he treated the insects that moved in too close (he very carefully picked them up and moved them away). He was calm, peaceful, perhaps sad. I was moved by him. I love that man, though he probably thinks little to nothing of the boy who stumbled across him, with the nice backpack and the pack of cigarettes he gave. I didn’t want them, he could use a smoke much more than I could.
Contrastingly enough, when I found the paved pathway from here to there in perfect order as I left it, there was a little lady. She was looking into Johnson Creek with eyes of a child, eyes that we all have for nature, eyes of love. I connect so easily with love, so I said, “Such a beautiful day, eh?”
She murmured something, instantly losing the love in her eyes.
As she moved away from me, I sort of picked up my pace, smiling still from my encounter with the angel in the tent in the woods.
I said, “I just moved in from out of town, I’m new here.”
She picked up a brisk pace, moving away from such an uncomfortable situation.
“I just wanted to ask you,” I said, pretending not to get the hint. I guess I was sort offended with her and my courage was talking proud.
She obliged with reluctance. “Yes?”
“I just wanted to ask you what your favorite place in the city was.”
“You just moved here?” she asked. “Do you work?”
“I have a job with my Uncle down in Aurora,” I replied.
The relief in her eyes pissed me off.
“I thought you were homeless or something.”
Can you imagine! I had just shared such an unbarricaded conversation with the most remarkable man who just happened to be homeless and this lady, with her ear rings and her purple, spotless jacket, this lady with her raised chin and nose as if smelling the wrong end of a dollar bill, this lady had a fear for the homeless.
“I see,” I said as pleasant as possible. “Are they bad here?”
“They’re everywhere! You have to be careful.”
We went on talking, mainly for my curiosity into this fascinating contradiction. She told me how kids move here with no jobs lined up (oops!) and bum off their friends and family for living (haha!) and are what make this world cringe and deteriorate.
I think I proved her wrong (albeit having checked off each of her little opinion-boxes), for when I left to answer my phone call she asked my name and reached for my hand.
I made an impression with both sides of the spectrum today. That gives me hope on my ability in love.